Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Full Court Press 2.23.16: Dear Cavs Fans... #Cavs

By Randy Groce, @ImissWiggins

I'm not hater.

Never have been, nor will I ever be.

I may not agree with everything other fans in my city or any other sports town says but that simply makes me a man with my own opinion. I won't fight with you guys on Twitter or Facebook. I won't call you stupid or dumb. Your opinion is just that, an opinion, and neither you nor I should be called names for having one. With that being said, I would ask that as a fan when you watch your basketball team on a day to day basis, pay close attention. In a 82 game season after forty one games you are what your record says you are. Also, for a sport such as basketball that has so many games there's no way you as a fan should take every win and loss so personal. Let's be honest, do we (fans) go to work and give 100% effort every single day? If you answered yes, you are the "Kevin Garnett" of your company. Congratulations. If you don't, you're no different than the average NBA player. That doesn't mean it's the right thing to do but it's human nature to not give your all every single time out. With that being said, let's talk about the Cleveland Cavaliers. 

In my opinion, the Cavaliers have the deepest and best all around roster in the NBA. They have who most would say is the "best player in the world", and two others on the team who are considered top 20 players. A few role players (Mo Williams, Richard Jefferson, Channing Frye) have been added while a few (Shawn Marion, Kendrick Perkins, Mike Miller) have been let go, but the core and most important pieces to last year's Finals' runner up team has returned in tact.
Despite injuries early on and an unexpected mid season coaching change, the Cavaliers boast the best record in the East. The question that most fans have been asking all year is "what's wrong with this team?" The most positive, bright eyed, optimistic fan will say nothing is wrong and we should relax until the Finals start. FYI, these are probably the same fans that told you to relax and "let Johnny live his life". To those fans I say, I like your attitude, but in the sport of basketball, it's much easier to gauge what's going to happen than it is in football or baseball. I do believe I wrote an article before the season started, telling everyone who to watch out for this season. The list was short and only included four teams. The Cavs, Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs, and the Oklahoma City Thunder. When you get a chance check the standings and tell me where these teams rank. 

To my fellow Cavs fans, I know the team was only two wins away from winning it all last year with two thirds of the "Big 3" out. You all assume if one or both were available the Cavs would have won it all. I disagree with that sentiment. It's an opinion that can't be proven so get over it. My reasons for feeling that way are the same reasons that I feel the Cavaliers will not win it this year either. This team almost two years playing together still are without an identity. They still have not found a way to consistently keep Kevin Love involved, and they still refuse to run the offense for more than 20% of a game. LeBron gives half an effort of defense most nights, and Love and Kyrie simply stink on the defensive end. That means the team usually finds themselves trying to outscore their opponent. Ok, as a fan of offense I can live with that, but the problem with that is two of the best players on the team (LeBron, Kyrie) don't know how to play off of the ball and as soon as it touches the hands of JR Smith something interesting usually happens.
The NBA is full of shooting guards that because of their size are forced to play point guard. I've stated since his rookie year that Kyrie needs to learn the game and once he gets better talent around him he'll learn to be a better distributor. Some guys never learn this (Derrick Rose) and some have finally figured it out (Russell Westbrook). I haven't given up on Kyrie one day figuring this out, but as of right now he hasn't and I believe it's time to move him to shooting guard and allow LeBron to run the point.

This past Sunday the Cavaliers defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder. To me, these teams are very similar. What they have in common that scares me the most is that they have so much talent that you very rarely see the half court offense being ran. Both teams have had coaches fired due to the players' lack of discipline and high expectations to win. What caught mine and most fans' attention on Sunday was the fact that after Kyrie left the game in the first quarter, LeBron led the team to a rather easy road win against one of the league's best teams. He knew when to distribute and when to attack. Kevin Love was given the ball in the right spots, and JR Smith was able to do his job. The floor spacing in the half court was beautiful.

Does this mean the Cavs can win a championship without Kyrie? No.

It means that with less than thirty games remaining the Cavs might want to consider some changes on offense. I'm not a fan that jumps to conclusions after every game, but I have been adamant in stating that there is no way the Cavs would beat Golden State or San Antonio in a seven game series. Yesterday's game changed my mind. LeBron has never been on a team with this much talent so if he were to run the offense on this team, with Kyrie and Love playing off of the ball and JR able to hide outside the three point arc they would be almost impossible to defend. Now this is a big if of course. It's not impossible, but I'd find it hard for a team to change its way of operating this late in the season but you never know. 

I hope as many people as possible gets an opportunity to read this, but this is truly an open letter dedicated to the fans of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Enjoy the ride. Yell if you want or celebrate and cheer if you'd like. Two years ago we were screaming at Dion Waiters, Alonzo Gee and Earl Clark praying that they could get us to the playoffs. I'm no longer saying the Cavs won't win it all this year, they have a chance. I am saying don't be surprised if they don't. They have given you every indication that they're not yet ready and if it doesn't happen you should be prepared.

As a life long Laker fan, I watched a period where Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal hated each other, but understood what to do when their backs were against the wall or when they were challenged.  The Cavs have to learn how to fight in those situations. How to play for each other and how to defend. LeBron has made the quote "nothings given, everything's earned" quite popular around here. It's easy to say the right things or have them printed on a tee shirt, but going out there every game and playing it like it's your last is what wins championships.

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